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Epicurean Delights of the State Fair
October 11, 2007 9:12 AM   Subscribe

A photoessay of the culinary highlights of the Texas State Fair, now in progress.

Note: this is not meant to disparage Texas, as I am sure every State & county fair nationwide features similar treats. Seeing so many things that aren't normally breaded and fried being breaded and fried was just amusing to me.
posted by jonson (63 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Disparage Texas? That made me wish I lived in Texas.
posted by creasy boy at 9:18 AM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


If you're gonna eat something, you might as well fry it first.
posted by kcds at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2007


Fried guacamole sounds awesome. I miss Texas. Here in California all we get at the state fair is stick-based foods like Egg Roll on a Stick.
posted by Nelson at 9:25 AM on October 11, 2007


Fried heaven. Love the photographs!

Fried pina colada?!

Fried avocado chunks. Whoa thunk? Zesty fried guacamole bites. Just never thought about frying avocado. Cool.
posted by nickyskye at 9:27 AM on October 11, 2007


This is why we also have this. [youtube]
posted by kaseijin at 9:30 AM on October 11, 2007


(seriously, though.... deep fried guacamole sounds amazing. I know what I'm making this weekend!)
posted by kaseijin at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2007


Yes, yes, a thousand time yes!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2007


There's a local mexican restaurant here that serves fried avocado. It's quite tasty.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2007


Here in California all we get at the state fair is stick-based foods like Egg Roll on a Stick.

Sir, I direct you to the Los Angeles County Fair, where this year I saw Deep Fried Coca Cola, Deep Fried Chocolate dipped in Funnel Cake Batter, Deep Fried Artichoke, Deep Fried Avocado, Deep Fried Hostess Cupcakes, and my personal favorite:

Chicken Patty sandwich with a Crispy Creme for bread, dipped in funnel cake batter and deep fried.

If egg rolls on sticks are the wildest thing you're finding out here, then you just aren't looking very hard.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:41 AM on October 11, 2007


Fried macaroni and cheese. *wipes away tear* I love America.
posted by DU at 9:50 AM on October 11, 2007


How to make fried oreos.
posted by phaedon at 9:53 AM on October 11, 2007


Naw, you go to the California State Fair (as I did a few years ago) and they have Texas Chili, Texas BBQ, Texas-sized this and Texas-sized that....

Thanks for the post! That is some dang good eatin'!
posted by MrFongGoesToLunch at 9:54 AM on October 11, 2007


Why wasn't the root beer fried?
posted by textilephile at 9:58 AM on October 11, 2007


Fried mac & cheese, done properly, is wicked-awesome. Try it with harissa.
posted by aramaic at 10:01 AM on October 11, 2007


What, no calf fries? To me, they're the ultimate food from the Tri-State Fair in Amarillo.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 10:02 AM on October 11, 2007


Before I followed the link, I was getting all ready to post a snarky, "Bah, here at the Indiana State Fair we had deep fried Pepsi this year" comment. But I think the deep fried latte might just beat that out. Well done, Texas.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2007


I think Minnesota wins.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:04 AM on October 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


Along these same lines, this Flickr set is pretty awesome. And it totally backs up Parasite Unseen's point.
posted by jonson at 10:04 AM on October 11, 2007


I just want a funnel cake, please. Powdered sugar only.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:05 AM on October 11, 2007


NYC here. Damn that corn dog looks good.
posted by MotherTucker at 10:15 AM on October 11, 2007


DevilsAdvocate, I believe deep fried Coca-Cola debuted a year or two ago at the Texas State Fair :)
posted by p3on at 10:19 AM on October 11, 2007


Disparage Texas? That made me wish I lived in Texas.

Absolutely. This was mouthwatering. (The fried chili-frito burrito is a startlingly smart innovation on Frito pie. I approve! )

But I assure you, nothing about this fair food is Texas-specific. Here in New England, we enjoy a plethora of fairs - we don't have state fairs, but we have a fair for pretty much every county-or-two region, so you can begin at the end of July and go to fairs through October. And I try to do just that. Our crowning glory is The Big E (Eastern States Exposition), basically an enormous state fair for all six states, where I first met the arepa (cornmeal patties with melted mozzarella in between, what's not to like?), Finnish pancakes, the turkey leg, and the Big E Cream Puff. Of course, in New England, we like our dough fried. I'm a powdered sugar person.

Something to take into account when considering the preponderance of fried foods is that it's much easier to pass a food-safety inspection when you sell fried foods as opposed to fresh ones; in some states, there are even different licensing requirements. The comfort level provided by the superheating of food to 500 degrees makes everyone feel a little calmer about serving food out of a truck in a manure-tracked field.
posted by Miko at 10:21 AM on October 11, 2007


how do you deep fry coca cola?
posted by heeeraldo at 10:22 AM on October 11, 2007


Here's a little bit of a reality check for this item.

Funny thing is that I'm working in Dallas right now, and found this article in one of the hotel-provided magazines in my room just this morning.
posted by hwestiii at 10:23 AM on October 11, 2007


Even the fries are fried!
posted by Koko at 10:28 AM on October 11, 2007


Mom was from Texas, and yes, she fried everything. Fried food is a guilty pleasure. Every now and then it's okay. But healthy food can be delicious too. Check out my site (not too many recipes yet, sorry, it's a new site) for recipes that will keep your arteries clear (and are so good they'll make you cry!).
posted by bbbaldie at 10:31 AM on October 11, 2007


You mean the fry's.
posted by emelenjr at 10:33 AM on October 11, 2007


This reminds me of an article that a guy I know wrote when we were both undergrads. He went to the Nebraska State Fair with the sole purpose of tasting the various foods-on-a-stick and writing about them.
posted by dead_ at 10:34 AM on October 11, 2007


*Whoda thunk? gotta preview

It's a Fry-o-Rama!
posted by nickyskye at 10:38 AM on October 11, 2007


Our local state fair kicks off tomorrow. I haven't been planning on attending, but all of a sudden, I have such an urge to push myself one step closer to that impending heart attack. Fried guacamole! Genius! I hope someone in North Carolina does it this year.
posted by msali at 10:39 AM on October 11, 2007


I was pretty impressed until I saw the fries avocado items.

People, listen.

The avocado is the world's most perfect food. It is a sacred animal.

The additions avocado needs is a pinch of salt and pepper.

Anything more is sacrilege.

The above applies only to Haas avocados. Bacon and other breeds of avocado are impure and may be treated with the disrespect due all lower life-forms.
posted by lekvar at 10:43 AM on October 11, 2007


Similar to fried guacamole, I once made a batter out of mashed avocado, flour, eggs, cheddar cheese and a splash of milk, and then dolloped it by the spoonful into a frying pan. I ate the resultant fritters with sour cream and salsa. They were quite tasty.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:44 AM on October 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


(Don't worry, lekvar; I used one of those huge smooth-skinned ones. Haas are sacrosanct.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:45 AM on October 11, 2007


culinary highlights of the Texas State Fair,

*applause*
posted by jason's_planet at 10:59 AM on October 11, 2007


Fried avocado tastes too eggy.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:01 AM on October 11, 2007


Fried Cheesecake = 950 calories!
YEE HAW.
Keep eating that shit Texas!
posted by 2sheets at 11:05 AM on October 11, 2007


That Fried Banana Pudding would more than likely be the death of me. It looks fan-fucking-tastic.
posted by sarahnade at 11:18 AM on October 11, 2007


Nothing beats the Fried Cheddar Nuggets of the Wisconsin State Fair. They are the size of your head and contain the cheese equivalent of ambrosia.
posted by drezdn at 11:26 AM on October 11, 2007


Yes, but do they have french-fry covered hot dogs on a stick?
posted by chimaera at 11:45 AM on October 11, 2007


I'm going to the fair for dinner tonight. Gonna get my corn dog on and see the Lucky Pierre's. Which you were here.
posted by space2k at 12:14 PM on October 11, 2007


ilu corn dog.
posted by spec80 at 12:20 PM on October 11, 2007


how do you deep fry coca cola?

As I understand it, the process for any deep fried liquid (Coca Cola, latte, whatever) involves making funnel cake batter but substituting Coca Cola (or any old fluid that you have on hand) for water.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:31 PM on October 11, 2007


America: Fry it or leave it!
posted by tommasz at 12:35 PM on October 11, 2007


Hey, let's calm down just a bit about the friedness. It seems like people protest too much about the horrors of the occasional fried treat. Let's get this in perspective.

I'm originally from Texas, but was raised in the North. One thing that's true about actual Southern food is that though there's a fair amount of fried food and saturated fat, vegetables are also far more common on the table than in the North. A basic homestyle dinner includes one meat dish, one plate of biscuits or cornbread, and then an array of sides dishes like squash, beans, greens, tomatoes, okra, peppers, and relishes, and tons of fresh fruit during a very long growing season, creating meals that can easily fall within the 40-30-30 rule.

Secondly, there's room in any diet for a day featuring a few indulgences like this. Fried fair food is not death on a platter unless you eat a lot of high-calorie, high-saturated fat., high-triglyceride food. It's intake over time that matters. The fair is supposed to be an over-the-top orgasm of food, freebies, events, prizes, showing off, thrills and chills, luck and loss - and nobody lives there. Ease up and enjoy a little - it won't kill you, unless you do it every week.

I'm into diet and health information, and it always amuses me to see the way people demonize certain foods without making direct comparisons. Fried food=bad is about as far as anyone gets. Meanwhile, one of America's favorite sweet snacks gives the fried cheesecake a run for its calories. Two Pumpkin Spice frappucinos from Starbucks also get you pretty close. I can't think how many times I've seen someone go for something (ahem) 'light' like the Chicken Caesar Salad at Boston Market or at Chili's. Fat hides in amazing places, and most of what's making Americans fat isn't fried food. When food is fried properly, in high enough heat and with a good exterior seal (batter or closed surface), it doesn't even absorb all that much oil - perhaps 8-10% by weight (which goes up significantly if the oil is cold or you're frying an absorbent, soggy food).

Consider as well that when you spend the day at the fair, you're basically on the hoof for eight hours or more, which standing and walking, meaning an additional calorie burn over a sedentary day.

So I won't be jumping aboard the OMG FAT bandwagon. Everything in moderation, including moderation. You could eat like Templeton the Rat for one day at the fair, and your overall health will be fine as long as most of your calories are from healthier sources and as long as you burn more than you take in. Don't be afraid of food. It's okay to enjoy it. Just know how to balance it and don't overdo anything in the long term.
posted by Miko at 1:11 PM on October 11, 2007 [8 favorites]


Instead of the waterboarding and thumbscrews strategy, couldn't we just take all the Guantanamo prisoners to a state fair, buy them a few fried oreos or whatever and watch their unyielding hatred for the US drip away like the delectable grease on their chins?
posted by Durin's Bane at 1:20 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I miss beignets. Nothing, not even funnel cakes, compare to a good heaping pile of fresh beignets.

/Louisiana memories
posted by fuzzbean at 1:21 PM on October 11, 2007


As I understand it, the process for any deep fried liquid (Coca Cola, latte, whatever) involves making funnel cake batter but substituting Coca Cola (or any old fluid that you have on hand) for water.

Please do not use any old fluid that you have on hand.
posted by Koko at 1:29 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Miko, I am seeing almost nothing but love for this food.

I like making fun of fat people and southerners as much as anyone but I gotta appreciate the vision it took to create some of this. Hell yeah, I'd eat fried banana pudding.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:41 PM on October 11, 2007


Yeah, that is inspired.
posted by Miko at 1:41 PM on October 11, 2007


Space2k, damn I may just have to go to the fair tonight. Fried latte and the Lucky Pierre's. Sounds like a rip-roarin' time. ( I am serious, I love the Lucky Pierre's. They played for a friends wedding a few years ago, and it was a blast)
posted by Benway at 1:45 PM on October 11, 2007


Fried avocado can be improved on! Remove the pit and stuff it with cheddar cheese. Yum. (a favorite appetizer at Magnolia's, Cambridge MA)
posted by whatzit at 3:14 PM on October 11, 2007


It took a second to kick in that the Lucky Pierre was a band; on first read I thought of the other kind and was promptly puzzled as to how that fit in a county fair in Texas.

On second thought, it probably has slots at both ends to accommodate tabs.
posted by heeeraldo at 3:19 PM on October 11, 2007


Fried guacamole??? OMG that sounds amazing.
posted by grouse at 4:24 PM on October 11, 2007


I live within spitting distance of Fair Park. I used to go every year but they fry anything that's not tied down. They have for years. It's frightening. I'm surprised they haven't started frying those stuffed animals you can win on the Midway.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:22 PM on October 11, 2007


Just came home from work and had to return to the State Fair delights.

Re-looking at the original link it's an entertaining cognitive dissonance. There's the epicurean photographs, right out of Gourmet Magazine, in exquisite detail. Even the classic outdoor, waxed cardboard boat-shaped bowls have a Zen boutique elegance in that light.

The presentation is right out of one of those Nouvelle Cuisine chef concoctions of amuses bouches.

And then, reading the ingredients, it's like looking at a hippo in a pink ballet tutu.
posted by nickyskye at 5:55 PM on October 11, 2007


Fried Icky.

Texas State Fair is where I bought my VitaMix, which is now rusting and gathering dust on the floor in a corner of my kitchen. I think it's where my parents bought my first set of encyclopedias. God that was a mistake, since none of the teachers in junior high would let me use it as a resource, thus making my parents' investment totally invalid. A long history of bad investments is what comes to mind when I think of the Texas State Fair. That, and very bad fireworks displays.

There's always a big Auto Show there but I don't recall anyone ever buying any cars. There's all kindsa displays and things and when I was a kid companies used to give stuff away, but that wasn't as prevalent last time I went.

Even Tex seems to have shrunk. It's just not worth going to anymore.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:46 PM on October 11, 2007


...but y'know GREAT LINK! =)
posted by ZachsMind at 7:37 PM on October 11, 2007


Taking the family this weekend. Always have a Fletchers corn dog. While I'm on a fried sugar high, I'll go drool over the new cars and trucks on display.
posted by hockeyman at 7:46 PM on October 11, 2007


Americans. Is there any food they can't fry?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:25 PM on October 11, 2007


When I can get a fried dirty hendricks martini, I'll burn my passport for evermore.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:34 PM on October 11, 2007


OMG. So disappointed. I looked for 3 FREAKING HOURS for the damn guacamole bites at the Fair. Then I sucked it up and had fried cheese curds, two bites of a corny dog and a fried snickers. I literally didn't eat again for 24 hours.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm fried.

Walking for 3.5 hours managed to assuage my guilt, but then, I felt attacked by the overwhelming amount of trucks on display at the car show and fled back to my suburban home.

I wondered briefly if there were more obese ugly people with bad tattoos at the fair or at Six Flags, where myself and my bf had visited earlier in the week...

I'd say they are about even, actually.

I really wanted to buy a softub, though.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:58 PM on October 12, 2007


This is a picture related to my favorite food from my State Fair.
posted by drezdn at 8:53 PM on October 12, 2007


I feel my life is poorer for never having attended a State Fair.
posted by essexjan at 1:24 AM on October 13, 2007


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